at a time when India's herb exports have tripled, several medicinal plants face extinction. The recent rediscovery of natural medicine has fuelled a sharp increase in commercial demand for herbal products in global markets. In an eager to meet the requirements, nearly 90 per cent of the medicinal plants are being harvested by unskilled persons. Factors such as increased demand, shrinking forests and over harvesting have brought several species like Indian serpentwood, Rauvolfia Serpentina , agarwood, Aquilaria Malaccensis and the Himalayan Yew Taxus wallichiana to the brink of extinction.
S Natesh, director, department of biotechnology, New Delhi, says that the ministry of environment & forests has set up eight biosphere reserves (out of 14 identified sites), 85 national parks and 448 sanctuaries under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, altogether covering some 1.8 lakh square kilometre.
However, these are not specifically aimed at medicinal plants but the conservation of entire habitats. It has also not been analysed how well the populations of given medicinal species have survived in these ecosystems.
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